About 30 years ago my father and I saved Bambi.
On Monday of this week my wife Kathy and I were heading home in rural Abilene when we saw a deer.
As we turned onto the road to our house, there was a deer eating from the neighbors’ mulberry tree.
The deer crossed the road in front of us and stopped in the ditch and stared at us.
We often see deer and deer tracks in our yard. One morning when I opened the garage door, there were five walking through the green grass. Usually when they see us, they take off running, easily clearing the barbed wire fence down the road.
So what was so unusual about his day was that the deer stopped and stared at us, without moving, for at least a couple of minutes. It was like it was posing for us and yes, we took a picture. When I backed up, the deer crossed the road, probably wanting more of the juicy mulberries.
Two days later, in a field that is now underwater because of the rising Smoky Hill River, Kathy witnessed a doe with a young fawn frolicking about. She watched them playing for a few minutes and took a short video.
This brings me to Bambi.
Bambi is a Disney movie about a young fawn learning life’s lessons in the forest. Friends include Thumper the rabbit, Flower the skunk, and Faline his female friend.
Several years ago while working on deadline with my nose buried in my work, a baby deer came walking into my office.
Its ruddy-brown fur had white spots. It couldn’t have weighed 10 pounds.
Its unsteady walk was on legs the diameter of pencils.
I took a break.
Our groundskeeper, handyman and overall maintenance man Deuane Curran found the deer curled up underneath his truck on the company grounds.
He brought it into the office for safekeeping.
It was the belief at the time that the fawn’s mother had been killed on Old Highway 40 and the baby was orphaned.
A call to the game warden at the time told us differently.
“It’s not abandoned,” he said. “Young fawns are often left alone. The adult animal is probably waiting to return to care for its young. Put it back.”
It is illegal in Kansas to have a deer as a pet. State permits are required to legally possess most species of wild animals.
Here is what the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism says:
Q. I found an abandoned fawn near the edge of a field next to my property. I brought the fawn into my house to save it, but don’t know how to care for it. What should I do?
A. Immediately take the fawn back to the spot where you found it and leave it there. The mother should come back again looking for the fawn. Even one or two days after removal from the wild, fawns have been successfully reunited with their mothers by returning them to the place where they are found. The mother was probably feeding not far away when you found the fawn.
So Deuane put the young fawn back.
When he returned to work the next day, the baby had not moved.
Another phone call was made to the game warden.
It was determined that the baby deer’s mother had indeed been killed when she was hit by a vehicle.
My dad, John, was then given a permit to take the baby home.
Of course my kids gave the deer the name Bambi.
Our son Ryan even wrote about it for an assignment in Mary Zey’s second grade class.
Dad fed it milk from a baby bottle at first. Who knew Purina made deer food?
The deer was kept in a good-sized pen with a six-foot fence.
We had it until it was full sized.
One day when Dad went out to feed Bambi, it was gone.
Does anyone recall seeing a deer in the wild around 1989 with a bright orange collar?
That was our Bambi.